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Code Vein release date, trailer, story and gameplay

It's nearly here: Bandai Namco's long-delayed, anime-inspired hack-em-up Code Vein is coming out soon. If you're still on the fence about whether you want to pick this one up (or if you're completely in the dark about it), you've come to the right place.

Code Vein is scheduled to release late September 2019, and we're putting together your go-to resource on everything you need to know about the action RPG. We'll go over the basics, like the gameplay and what systems you'll be able to play it on. We'll also be discussing some of the early impressions and unique systems that you'll be able to experience should you decide to pick this one up.

Grab your sword that is somehow bigger than you and prepare to die: here's what we know so far about Code Vein.

Code Vein's release date and systems

Just what is Code Vein? It's an anime-inspired action RPG that promises all sorts of lofty experiences. Online co-op and AI controlled allies will let players tackle dungeons however they please. Bandai Namco also promises a wide array of viable styles that players can switch between on the fly, allowing players to tackle specific bosses or areas in totally different ways.

It isn't that far away, either. The game is set to release on Sept. 27, 2019. As of right now, you'll be able to play it on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.

We say "as of right now" because there is a possibility that Code Vein could head to the Nintendo Switch at some point, too. Speaking with GameSpot, producer Keita Iizuka had this to say: "We are focusing on development for PS4, Steam, and Xbox One. But as far as the possibility of porting to Switch or [the Epic Games Store], there might be a possibility down the line. We can't really say for sure at this point."

Don't hold your breath, Switch owners. But don't count Code Vein out, either.

The trailer for Code Vein

"In the face of certain death, we rise."

If you want to simultaneously get a sense of what Code Vein is all about while also gaining zero clues to what Code Vein is all about, check out the trailer.

Didn't make much sense, huh?

It's all there. Grandiose, nonsensical voiceovers. Translations that are either poorly executed, deliberately obtuse, or both. And a whole lot of over the top, anime-styled violence. There is a bit of information we can gather from the trailer, however; we're dealing with a post-apocalyptic world, and humanity has essentially been wiped out. We're also dealing with some sort of … cybernetic vampires? 

What the trailer really showcases are some of the insane weapons, powers, and enemies that you'll encounter in Code Vein. Huge, demonic foes will stand in your way, but you've got all sorts of methods at your disposal to take them down. The trailer captures the mood and style that Code Vein is shooting for, and does a great job of selling you on the world of the game.

What is the story in Code Vein?

We do know a bit about what's going on in Code Vein based off of other material out there. Players control vampire-like beings that drain their enemies of power. They exchange the remnants of their humanity for Gifts, which enable them to become even more fearsome on the battlefield.

The enemies you will fight against have also been hinted at. From the game's official description: "Give into the bloodlust fully and risk becoming one of the Lost; fiendish ghouls devoid of any remaining humanity who wander aimlessly in search of blood."

It all sounds a bit like the mythology of Dark Souls, a comparison that you will hear frequently as you learn more about Code Vein.

Code Vein's developers have discussed some of the unique mythology of the game's bloodsuckers, however. In an early developmental video, they announced three different methods of draining blood — and power — from your foes: Ogre, Hounds, and Stinger. All of these methods transform your character in unique ways and will change your methods of attack.

What is the gameplay like in Code Vein?

It's pretty easy to classify the gameplay of Code Vein as Souls-like. Early gameplay videos seem to indicate that it moves a bit quicker than the From Software series, more like Bloodborne than Dark Souls. However, the game has been in development for quite some time, so it seems likely the Code Vein has evolved and adapted during its production.

One of the big differences between Code Vein and its influences seems to come in the AI partners you can recruit and customize throughout the game. Game Informer writes that, even though you'll have an AI partner with you for many battles, "Your AI partners are not particularly aggressive and enemies are not especially interested in them, so they do not exist to take gameplay away from you."

If you're looking to mix it up with gigantic, deadly enemies inside an anime-inspired vampire world, then Code Vein looks to have you covered.

Code Vein's developer and composer

Bandai Namco is one of the biggest game publishers out there, so the fact that they are sinking this much time, energy, and money into a game like Code Vein is hopefully an encouraging sign. And the company knows this style of action; in addition to publishing the Dark Souls series, Bandai Namco also helped develop God Eater, which focuses on fighting massive creatures. They have also helped develop several fighting games, including Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Tekken 7, and Dragon Ball FighterZ. Code Vein looks like it draws influence from many different types of games and brings them all together.

Another point of interest is the game's composer, Go Shiina. He has worked on many memorable Bandai Namco titles in his twenty years as a composer, including Tekken 7 and God Eater 3, as well as several anime series. Expect some epic music as you cut through monsters.

Code Vein is reportedly very difficult

It's difficult to compare a game to Dark Souls without also implying that it is difficult. Luckily, Code Vein seems to fit that description. Polygon called it an "absorbing, challenging experience with a complex web of combat systems." One of the major focuses of the development team was to give the players several ways to fight back against the challenges they'll face.

The same Polygon article calls it "as much a puzzle game as a combat role-playing game." Much of the challenge in Code Vein will come from analyzing the situation and making adjustments as needed. This will give players room to adapt their style and encourage a well-rounded approach, rather than maximizing one subset of abilities.

That said, Code Vein is still going to be hard. In a Q&A, the game's developers discussed that even they have trouble with some of the enemies in the game, and that there is no difficulty adjustment. They claimed that Code Vein gets easier through practice: "The game is made for you to build off of self-improvement and finding these strategies for yourself."

Code Vein's anime inspiration

From the screenshots and videos, it should be very obvious that much of Code Vein's inspiration comes from anime. Everything about the game — the over the top attack animations, huge weapons and enemies, and dramatic character reactions — screams out a very distinct style that will help differentiate it from other games with similar mechanics.

One area where you can truly see the anime inspirations come in the transformations. As a vampire, many of your attacks will drain life and power from your foes. However, your character does this by transforming into a variety of different shapes. The sleeves of their coat might turn into wolves, ripping and tearing at your enemies. A huge, mechanical stinger might shoot out from under your coat and latch on to your target.

Bandai Namco released a video highlighting the character design of Code Vein, and how they are using the design to help tell the game's story. Check it out right here.

Code Vein's collector's editions

There are a few different bonuses out there if you want to preorder Code Vein or drop a little extra money for some cool goodies. The regular version of the game will run you $59.99, and preordering will net you a few cosmetic items like some God Eater-inspired weapons and some bonus equipment for your characters. If you get the game on PS4, you'll also receive a Code Vein digital theme.

Upgrade that to the Digital Deluxe version, and you'll receive all the cosmetic goods plus the Code Vein season pass. The season pass content includes an alternative look for Mia, the "Astrea Blood Code" and all applicable skills, and three DLC offerings: "Abyss of the Thunder," "Abyss of the Fire," and "Abyss of the Ice." The Digital Deluxe version costs $79.99.

Finally, there's also Revenant Edition, which can only be purchased on the Bandai Namco store. It will run you $99.95, and will include a metal case for the game, a Mia statue, and exclusive digital add-ons, like a soundtrack and art book. However, the Revenant Edition appears to either be sold out or unavailable in the United States.

Code Vein features cooperative play

One of the central Dark Souls comparisons in Code Vein comes from the way it handles cooperative play. Code Vein will not only give you a customizable AI partner, but will also allow other players to jump into your game and offer support during difficult sections. Dark Souls had player summons, and it appears Code Vein does as well.

Your AI support character is not designed to beat bosses for you, however. They are more designed to provide buffs and healing, leaving the heavy lifting up to you. This will add another layer to the game's strategy, as you try to maximize the benefits of your AI character to navigate the game's problem areas.

If you are totally stuck, that's where the cooperative element will come into play. Other players can join your game to help you knock out a boss or move through a particularly dangerous territory. DualShockers writes that "ultimately you're the one who's making progress" when someone joins in; you are not progressing together.

You can check out a brief E3 interview about how the cooperative elements of Code Vein will work right here.

Code Vein has gone through a few delays

You may have noticed that some of the information and gameplay videos for Code Vein date back pretty far. Footage and information about the game first started surfacing in 2017, and the original, intended release date for Code Vein was September 2018. In July 2018, however, Bandai Namco decided to put a hold on the game, delaying it for a year to continue making progress.

According to IGN, the delays were due to feedback from early players. The developers released this statement: "Armed with knowledge of how well the game has already been received, we made the decision to postpone the release of Code Vein to further refine its gameplay in an effort to exceed the expectations fans already have of the title. It was a difficult decision to make, but we feel it is the correct one."

You can never fully trust corporate speak, but the general message given was, "The game was so good that we wanted to make it better!" Luckily, barring any eleventh hour delays, it seems we will see Code Vein in September 2019.

Code Vein is "anime Dark Souls"

There's a pretty common theme in most of the reporting on Code Vein. Let's see if you can spot it.

An Engadget headline reads, "Dark Souls and anime merge." Game Informer asks, "Is Code Vein Really 'Anime Dark Souls?'" The Sixth Axis wrote a preview called, "Spending a vampiric afternoon with the Dark Souls of Anime." It doesn't take much time to figure out that Bandai Namco is making their own version of Dark Souls with this one.

There are definitely worse combinations than "Dark Souls + Anime" that a video game could take. In fact, injecting a bit of the color and life of over the top anime could be exactly what Dark Souls needs to find a new audience.

To their credit, Bandai Namco doesn't seem like they're really shying away from the comparison. Enough of the systems are similar enough to seem like a pretty deliberate attempt to transport the familiar gameplay into the new, anime-inspired style.

Face terrifying bosses in Code Vein

If Dark Souls is known for anything, it would probably be the outrageously difficult boss fights. Code Vein is following in those footsteps with its own ridiculous bosses.

One boss you'll encounter is called the "Successor of the Claw," a creature engulfed in flames that wields a massive burning sword. It has two tails and attacks using huge, sweeping movements. Another, called the "Successor of the Ribcage," can only be described as … well … a floating wolf-monster with four human arms that fires purple lightning bolts at you.

If you like your bosses more like the Dancer of the Boreal Valley from Dark Souls 3, then maybe check out the trailer for Code Vein's Invading Executioner. It shows an entirely different style of attack than the Successor bosses appear to have, meaning you'll need to practice some new tactics.

Word is still out on whether we'll encounter a duo named "Smornstein and Ogg," but it does seem Code Vein will have some memorable battles to deal with.